Monday, May 5, 2014

Driver’s License and SPAM!

We went to Sioux Falls, SD so I could get my driver’s license renewed. Although my birthday on November 5 is the expiration date, South Dakota allows renewals 6 months in advance. I figured that May 5 (today) was exactly 6 months early, and it would work out great for me to get the renewal and still have time to get to Goshen for Escapade.

It turns out that time period is actually more precise, that is, 180 days not 6 months. So, when I arrived at 7:00 am the agent told me I was 4 days early! After some discussion and my saying I needed to be in Indiana in 4 days, and wouldn’t be returning to SD until summer 2015 (if then), and with some consultation with a supervisor, I was allowed to do the paperwork and get my picture taken. They will then process my renewal in 4 days and mail my new license. Whew! I’d hate to think we detoured over 500 extra miles for no reason!

As often happens, I ran into some Escapees friends at the driver’s license office – Carlin and Paula Serra! They’re on their way to Goshen for the Escapade as well, so we’ll see them again soon.

While I was taking care of that business, Don finished packing up the motorhome and met me at the Love’s service station where he bought diesel. We hitched up the car in the parking lot, and were on our way east.

Our first stop was to change drivers, then I drove to Austin, MN, home of the SPAM Museum. Don had been here before, but it was my first visit. How fun!



Don made me stand on the left so Spammy could pat me on the butt!


The museum shows how George A. Hormel got started in the business and how he created SPAM. There was a lot of emphasis on family values, with the slogan “originate, don’t imitate!” encouraging innovation.



George’s brothers and his son Jay were involved in the business. Jay became President when his father retired to California.


Hormel has acquired quite a few other brands over the years. One story was particularly interesting.

“When the federal government abruptly halted a Depression-era program to aid livestock farmers and consumers, Geo. A. Hormel & Company was left with 500,000 empty cans. Jay C. Hormel needed a product to fill all those cans. He settled upon a beef stew to sell at 15 cents per can. Hormel acquired the Dinty Moore name from another company, then licensed the Dinty Moore characters from the creator of the “Bringing Up Father” comic strip. More than six decades later, the stew and the Dinty Moore brand remain industry leaders.”


Jay Hormel developed Hormel Chili and marketed it with a traveling 20-piece Mexican song-and-dance troupe. He offered double money back to anyone dissatisfied with his chili. Today, it’s my favorite canned chili and a nice, quick meal especially in cold weather.


Most people have heard stories (some of them pretty gross) about what goes into SPAM. But the reality is simple: pork with ham. Most of the meat in regular SPAM comes from the front shoulder of the hog. Salt, sugar and sodium nitrite are the only other ingredients. There are 11 special flavors that have other ingredients. Don and I purchased a can of Garlic SPAM and one of Hickory Smoked SPAM to try. It was disappointing not to be able to taste during our self-guided tour of the museum, but they only offer that in the summer.

SPAM is produced in six plants in five countries: United States, Japan, Philippines, Denmark and South Korea. It’s sold in 47 countries. Here’s the constantly-changing counter of SPAM production of cans, currently at over 8 billion.


You might remember the Monty Python skit about SPAM. It shows non-stop on a monitor.


Did you know Hormel owns all these brands?


I should have bought one of these “Spammy” pigs for our hot air balloonists, as they have a special shape balloon “Pigasus” that’s similar!


We had lunch at a restaurant down the street. I was disappointed to only find one thing on their menu with SPAM – SPAM and eggs. I had eggs for breakfast, so I had a chicken sandwich which wasn’t that good. Oh, well, I’ll make my own SPAM sandwich at home.

We crossed the Mississippi River at La Crosse, WI. Interstate-90 crosses over part of Lake Onalaska at this point, so there’s a lot of water to roll over. This is just one of many sections of the crossing.


It was a lovely drive, weather-wise (NO WIND!!), but parts of the road were very bumpy and in need of repair/rebuild. We are spending the night in the Veteran’s Memorial Park in West Salem (a La Crosse County Park).


The La Crosse River runs through the park and there are several sites next to it.



I’m sure the park is very popular in the summer, but it’s almost empty tonight. This tank at the entrance was restored by a Boy Scout Troop in the area.



  1. Nice day! I do have to take time to go to the Spam Museum -- even if I'm afraid of the stuff, LOL.

  2. I can't believe they only give samples in the summer. They had all kinds of different ones when we were there. See you soon.

  3. I have always wanted to go there! See you soon! Hugs!

  4. One of Luke's favorite vendors during past ABQ Balloon Fiestas was the Spam Mobile with their free breakfast sandwiches (Spamwiches??). Thanks for the company background. I use many of the products on display. I always learn something from your blogs. Thanks for taking the time to research and write.

  5. Lots of Spam in Hawaii. I'm an odd one. I LOVE spam. I eat it cold, fried, I love Spam and eggs for breakfast. Sometimes I fry the spam, lay it on the toast, put the hard cooked egg on top and have breakfast on the run ;)

  6. Both my husband and I love SPAM. Guess we're unique!! We also love it cold, or fried. Haven't tried the new flavours, they really don't interest me, but sure do love the regular one.

  7. Your title tricked me. I assumed that the Drivers License had something ti do with computer spam! But was delighted to find out you were referring to Canned Spam. I love it, Tom not so much. Love a Spam, Tomato, Mayo Sandwich.


Please tell me what you think, either here, on Facebook, or by email. I *love* comments!